Mesut Ozil: A wine that is not getting better with age

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On 2 September 2013, Mesut Ozil joined Arsenal from Real Madrid for a fee of around £42million, putting down a five-year contract in a transfer that made him the most pricey German footballer at the time. 

Ozil Made his debut for Arsenal in their premier league away game to Sunderland on 14 September 2013. He assisted Olivier Giroud’s goal as Arsenal went on to win the match 3-1.

His primeval performances with the gunners earned him an appearance in the UEFA team of the year and he was also short-listed for the 2013 FIFA Ballon d’or award. 

In the January of 2014, Ozil started four of Arsenal’s six games, recording his 10th assists when he produced the ball for Santi Carzola’s goal against Southampton.

Ozil completed his first season at Arsenal with 13 assists and seven goals in 40 appearances. 

In the 2014/2015 season. Ozil returned to Arsenal in mid-August after participating in Germany’s 2014 FIFA world cup win in Brazil. 

On 8 october, the DFB declared that Ozil would be sidelined for between 10 and 12 weeks with a left knee injury sustained during a 2-0 defeat at Chelsea. 

The German international rounded off his second season at Arsenal with 5 goals and 9 assists in 33 appearances and also winning back-back FA cups.

In the 2015/2016 season, Ozil assisted a goal for Kieran Gibbs in a 1-1 draw against Tottenham on 8 November, setting a new Premier League record as the first player to assist in six consecutive matches.

Ozil’s form continued as he ended his third season at Arsenal with 8 goals and a whooping 19 premiere league assists, a recorder only bettered by Thienry Henry in the 2003/ 2004 season. Ozil’s exploit won him the Arsenal Player of the seasosn award.

In the 2016/2017 season, Ozil hit double figures in goals(12) and assists(13). Of a particular highlight was his wonder goal against Ludogorets in a champions league group stage game on November 16, one which the player himself described as the best of his career. 

The German international also scored his first professional hatrick on 29 October, as Arsenal humbled Ludogorets in a 6-0 thumping.

Ozil entered the 2017/2018 season in the final year of his contract, and struggled at first, featuring sparsely as a result of knee inflammation.

On 11 march, against Watford he recorded his 50th league assists in 141 appearances making him the first player to reach that tally in fewer appearances.

The German international finished his fifth Arsenal season with 5 goals and 13 assists in 35 appearances.

In the 2018/2019 season, Ozil  took the number 10 jersey following Jack Wilshere’s departure. He was also named one of Arsenal’s vice captains. 

After Arsenal’s 3-1 comeback win against Leicester City on 22 october; a game in which he captained and recorded a goal and 2 assists, the German began to falter due to mix of injuries and a dip in form. 

Ozil was continuously left out of Arsenal’s squad, breeding speculations that he could depart the North London club in the January transfer window.

However with no move materialized, the German’s form continued to suffer with rumours also circulating of him having a strained relationship with the then Arsenal coach, Unai Emery. 

In a season filled with injuries, few chances and alleged confrontation with Unai Emery; Ozil registered his worst campaign statistically at the time since joining Arsenal, netting six goals and providing four.

In the start of the 2019/2020 season, Ozil was given additional time off to start the season after being the victim of an attempted robbery. 

The 2019/2020 season saw Ozil lost relevance leading to just 23 competitive appearances, scoring a goal.

Arsenal finished far from the premier league top 4 but still managed to secure European football for next season, when they defeated Chelsea in last week’s FA cup final.

It is safe to say that Mesut Ozil was one the most talented German coming through the ranks. He is a player blessed with a wonderful left foot capable of splitting the tightest of defenses with a though pass.

In the past, supporters have longed argued that Ozil’s influence is hard to quantify. Goals were never going to tell his story. He is the man that glues the team. His knack for making assists, his technical skills and creativity projects him to the forefront with the game’s elites.

But his excellence have start to fleet rather than being sustained. He is a possession player that now finds himself in a team that no longer plays to keep possession. The German now lacks the speed and mentality to produce his best in a counter-attacking team.

It is very easy to commiserate with Ozil, especially at the time he titillated the ire of the Chinese government for his support of the country’s muslim Uighur minority.

But many fans are not pleased with the 31-year old mainly because he is the club’s top earner pocketing £350,000 a week whilst playing far below his pay grade and also because of his decision not to join his teammates in taking a pay cut back in April.

Many are already calling for a salary restructure that will see Pierre – Emerick Aubameyang become the new top earner.

The Gabonese international has been the light in the dark for the gunners this season and he has earned the right to demand for a bumper contract.

Disparities aside, age should not stand as a vindication for Ozil, simply because there is Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric, Lionel Messi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and a host of many others who are still doing well despite advancing in age.

Whatever is the cause of the German’s wistful decline, one may never truly know. But one thing that is sure is that; Mesut ozil, a player once tipped to win the balon d’or, is now a wine that is not getting better with age.

Also Read: Lionel Messi fails to make list of 10 most lethal strikers in European football as Cristiano Ronaldo comes third (See full list)

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